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Vrykolakas

Slinking forth on bent limbs and gnarled claws, this twisted abomination bears a resemblance to a starved, plague-ridden ape, its form bestial and bent, with pallid skin stretched unnaturally over knotted bone. Yet its visage holds a greater terror, for amid fangs and milky eyes linger the withered features of a living corpse.

Vrykolakas CR 10

XP 9,600
NE Medium undead
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +17; Aura pestilent aura (5 ft., DC 21)

DEFENSE

AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 18 (+4 Dex, +1 Dodge, +8 natural)
hp 115 (10d8+70); fast healing 5
Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +11
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; Immune undead traits
Weaknesses vulnerability to fire

OFFENSE

Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (1d6+6 plus energy drain), bite +13 (1d6+6)
Special Attacks horrid visage*, energy drain (1 level, DC 21), rend (2 claws, 1d6+9)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th)

3/daycharm animal (DC 17), disguise self, fear (DC 20)

STATISTICS

Str 22, Dex 19, Con —, Int 7, Wis 18, Cha 23
Base Atk +7; CMB +13; CMD +28
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Stealthy, Toughness
Skills Climb +14, Disguise +6 (+14 when impersonating its former living self), Perception +17, Stealth +21; Racial Modifiers +8 Disguise when impersonating its former living self
Languages Common
SQ feed, feral possession

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Create Spawn (Su)

Any humanoid creature that is slain by a vrykolakas’s natural attacks becomes a vrykolakas itself in 1d4 days if not blessed and properly buried. A blessing might entail either the spell bless or a more mundane consecration. A vrykolakas’s spawn are free-willed and wild, typically remembering nothing of their moment of death and caring nothing for the vrykolakas that killed them. They do not possess any of the abilities they had in life.

Horrid Visage (Su)

At the mere sight of a vrykolakas, the viewer must succeed on a DC 20 Will save or be paralyzed with fear for 1d4 rounds. Whether or not the save is successful, that creature cannot be affected again by the same vrykolakas’s horrid visage for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Feed (Su)

When a person dies due to a vrykolakas’ pestilence, the vrykolakas steals some of their lifeforce. For every 5 victims, it gains 1 Hit Die, but only once per week, when it must spend a day of repose at its burial site.

Feral Possession (Ex)

Upon being reduced to 0 hit points, a vrykolakas’s spirit attempts to possess any animal within 100 feet. This ability is similar to the spell magic jar but does not require a receptacle and has a duration equal to 1 hour for every Hit Die the vrykolakas possesses. The target must make a DC 21 Will save or be possessed. If the possession fails, the vrykolakas immediately dies. If the possession succeeds, the animal immediately retreats to the vrykolakas’s grave, where it attempts to bury itself in the earth. If left uninterrupted for 1d4 days, the animal transforms into a new vrykolakas with all the same statistics as the original. If discovered and slain during this time, both the animal and the vrykolakas spirit are destroyed. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Pestilent Aura (Su)

All creatures that come within 5 feet of a vrykolakas must save to resist contracting bubonic plague. Any creature that successfully saves against a vrykolakas’s pestilent aura cannot be affected by the aura of that same vrykolakas for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Bubonic Plague: aura—inhaled; save Fort DC 21; onset 1 day; frequency 1/day; effect 1d4 Con damage and 1 Cha damage and target is fatigued; cure 2 consecutive saves.

ECOLOGY

Environment any
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

A restless and savage form of undead, the vrykolakas knows only rage and relishes the suffering of those who failed it in life. Reanimated corpses of wicked and vengeful souls denied even the basic burial rites, these unreasoning vampire-kin unleash their wrath against the living, indiscriminately spreading disease and death among all in their paths. Their bitterness at their own disgraced ends drives them to a loathing of all life and a jealous desire to see all other living creatures fall to their same level of profanity and debasement. Such hardly proves a conscious plot, though, but rather a fundamental instinct. Thus, a single vrykolakas can devastate an entire village, potentially spawning a host of new vrykolakas from their victims.

A vrykolakas (the name both singular and plural) appears as a terrible, bestial corruption of the being it was in life. Twisted by rage and undeath into an animalistic shape, these undead bear the taint of death, their bodies lean to the appearance of starvation and pocked with evidence of rot and disease. Hunched and twisted, a vrykolakas’s bent spine is the same length it was in life if straightened, but the feral posture of most cause them to slump to a mere 4-1/2 to 5 feet tall. The wasting of death also greatly decreases the corpse’s weight, reducing even hearty men to at least 20 or 30 pounds less than they weighed in life.

Ecology

Despite its savage and decayed appearance, a vrykolakas often passes through towns and villages undeterred, due to its supernatural ability to disguise itself. With the ability to cloak its terrible shape, a vrykolakas typically appears little different than it did in life. Death removes much of the living corpse’s sense of who it was, though, so vrykolakas rarely reconstruct their original appearances with complete accuracy. Thus, family and acquaintances often notice the resemblance, but do not readily identify a vrykolakas as the resurrected individual.

A vrykolakas thrives upon disease and death, drawing its vigor from those humanoids it passes near. It walks among the living merely to infect them with its grave taint, passing on the subtle corruption of death. Its mere touch drains the life from a victim as well, stealing from its very essence. A vrykolakas’s favored victims typically come from among its former family members and friends, which it pursues with only half a memory of any previous connection, yet a lingering malice, as such former companions failed to prevent its accursed fate.

A vrykolakas is uniquely bound to the place where it died or its body was originally interred. It must return to this site every Starday and bury itself amid the earth or stones to rest for 24 hours. A vrykolakas is entirely helpless during this period and can be easily destroyed if it can be located. The vampire-kin understand this weakness, though, and go to great lengths to avoid being followed to their resting places.

Habitat & Society

Vrykolakas typically appear near or in rural areas close to their graves. They walk the open streets of villages and hamlets during daylight hours, avoiding direct interaction and attention, all the while infecting those nearby and robbing them of their vitality. By night they seek to take their revenge more overtly, wreaking havoc upon the community, destroying food and property, attacking and smothering people in their beds, stealing valuables, and generally terrorizing people. Many rural superstitions and prejudices against strangers stem from tales of vrykolakas, slipping quietly into town or lurking at the edges of a community, spreading death and despair among the innocent.

The Greek Vampire

The vrykolakas (pronounced “vree-KO-la-kahss”) is an undead creature from Greek folklore. Synonymous with revenants, these terrors manifest as humans that have returned from the grave to perform some act before they can peacefully rest. Many stories of the vrykolakas are not of horrid, evil undead, but of deceased persons attempting to return to their former lives, such as the shoemaker who returned from the grave to mend his children’s shoes, carry water, and chop firewood.

The more vengeful type of vrykolakas gained stronger belief in Greece after the arrival of Slavic immigrants, who brought with them tales of blood-drinking vampires and werewolves. The word vrykolakas itself borrows from Slavic, derived from the Bulgarian word vukodlak, vuk meaning “wolf ” and dlaka meaning “fur.” This suggests that vrykolakas were somehow associated with werewolves, most likely due to the Slavic belief that werewolves became vampires after they died. A person could become a vrykolakas in a variety of ways. The most common involve a person being evil and immoral, an excommunication from the church, or improper burial rites. Some thought that eating the meat of a sheep that had been killed or wounded by a wolf or a werewolf would turn a person into a vrykolakas.

A cat or other animal jumping over a dead body could also result in its evil return. Curses, such as “may the ground not receive thee,” would also condemn the recipient to undeath as a vrykolakas. Many also believed that a vrykolakas would knock at your door and call your name, but could only do so once. If one answered the door, he would die shortly thereafter, and become a vrykolakas. For this reason, the superstition that one should not answer the door until the second knock still exists in some Greek villages.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder 29: Mother of Flies, Copyright 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A . Vaughan.